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Central Europe

© 1999-2001 Imminent Storm of NEWST.

Chapter Four: The Lair of the Beast

"YEEEEEEEEHHHHAAAWWWW! This is fun ain't it!", Jim shouted over the intercom frequency on the team's pressure suit helmets. The rest just looked at each other with concerned expresions as the shaky and rough ascent into space continued.

"Thunder, this is control, T+5 minutes and counting, SRB separation in 30 seconds."

"Roger, Control" responded Chris, who had his hand ready to hit the emergency abort switch should any sign of trouble appear. The Fenrir rocket was similar in design to many early space rockets of the mid- to late- 20th century. It had a long, thin center section that housed the fuel tanks and exhaust nozzle for the main liquid booster. Attached externally were 4 Solid Rocket Boosters--SRB's--that extended about halfway up the rocket.

"T+5min 30sec, SRB separation engage." Most of the ascent was computer controlled, so Chris had little to do but wait. A small vibration and a thud was all that indicated the release of the SRB's; and suddenly, the jolting and shaking stopped and the ride became very smooth, as the liquid thruster took full control of the ascent. "Thunder, this is control, T-3 min 15 sec to main booster shutdown and separation." And 3 minutes later, the main rocket shut down and separated; the Descent Module that contained all 6 members and their supplies exited the ascent capsule, and fell quiet for the first time in over 10 minutes. They were now in freefall for one full orbit. Sarah came over the intercom in a shaky and nervous voice. "Well, we made it this far." The module only had enough fuel to to retrograde and no more, so they only had one shot to get this right. "Thunder, this is Control, This is last radio transmission until full radio silence. Good luck, and Godspeed."

"Thank you Control, we'll be back soon," Richard replied before switching off the comm. "We're on our own now." That's when Earth came into view through the front windows, and all stared in awe at the planet; scarred and battered from the Collapse, but still beautiful, nonetheless.

One full orbit later came the most dangerous part of the mission--re-entry. Firing the retro thusters on the module was also computer-controlled; but once in the atmoshere, it would be up to Chris to fly and land safely. It would be near-dawn over the target, so there would be some light to aid visual navigation and landing. As the module hit the atmoshpere, the roar became intense in the cockpit--but thankfully, the helmets cut it down considerably. The team became a shooting star in the European Sky.

Meanwhile, back at Control HQ...

Battles raged once again on the front line; a smaller scale than before, but the enemy was just as determined. We took an outpost accros the Rhine to take advantage of a pocket of resources. The enemy counterattacked bitterly, but has not yet made any headway against our defenses. Strangely though, their bombing attacks have focused not on the resources, but on our drones clearing the area of pre-Collapse ruins. The drones are non-military units, posing no significant threat to them; but they have been determined to keep us from clearing the debris.

Then, very early on the 7th, one of the drone teams--and the battle group protecting them--found something than may have been the reason for the odd attacks. At the same time, one soldier looked into the night sky and saw the bright streak of a shooting star pass over his head. He then turned back to what was before him: a massive set of steel doors leading underground.

And back to Team Thunder...

They were still alive! As they fell rapidly from high altitude, Chris pulled a lever to deploy the parachutes that would slow them down. Then, another switch and lever caused a set of wings to extend and unfold, which would allow them to glide down to Earth. Chris then took the stick in hand, released the chutes, and checked his position on the pulse GPS (this system uses a laser to communicate with a satellite above them). He had to keep the craft steady to get a good connection, and he confirmed that they were in the right place. Sure enough, they were; he guided the craft in a spiral fashion to lose altitude. Of course, there was a problem.

The hydraulics for the landing gear failed to function, and the gear would not come down. Luckily, the engineers that built the module weren't stupid. In case of an abort, the module would come down in the middle of the Atlantic. So, the engineers built a flotation system and included a set of rafts in the cargo. Spotting a large lake nearby, Chris brought the craft to near stalling speed, then deployed the floats. The landing was rough, but they survived and the craft didn't sink.

Colonel Richard unbuckled himself and stood up. "Alright, everybody out of your pressure suits and get your field gear on. We need to get all the supplies and equiment off onto rafts, and sink this thing A.S.A.P. We can't have anybody finding out that we are here." At that, it was a mad dash to get off and to get to shore. As the team headed to shore with the equipment and suppies, Harry (the team blaster) set small charges along the base of the module and and on its floats. Atfter the charges went off, the module quickly sank to the bottom of the lake. "We just saved ourselves a load of explosives. If we had landed on land, the whole thing would have had to be blown up," Harry said when he got to shore. Lisa then stood up; "I'm just glad we're all alive."

Lets just hope we stay that way," Richard said, grabbing his GA-33 Rapid fire Gauss Rifle. "We'll move inland and establish a basecamp, then begin in the morning. Get your sleep, you'll need it."